Khayelitsha township just outside Cape Town. Photo: Olga Ernst, Wikimedia Commons

Twitter divided over reveal of first COVID-19 township case

A Twitter debate has been raging over the first township case which was announced on Sunday 29 March.


Khayelitsha township just outside Cape Town. Photo: Olga Ernst, Wikimedia Commons

The Western Cape government has reminded the public that no one is immune to contracting the infectious virus. 

Debate over the first township case of the coronavirus has been raging on Twitter less than a day after Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced that Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain had reported one and five cases respectively. 

‘Serious concern’ to Western Cape government

“Each and every one these cases — from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to Mossel Bay – is of very serious concern for my government.

“Our response teams are treating the development of cases in our informal areas with the urgency and seriousness it deserves, following up with every contact and ensuring isolation,” said Winde.

“We appeal to the public to not stigmatise this virus – no one is immune, and we ask for understanding and assistance to those in need of help. Mostly, if we are [to] break its spread, we need to be open about it.”

No further details about the cases in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain have been released although weekend reports stated that police had arrested residents who violated lockdown rules.

Mixed Twitter reactions

On Twitter, some users angrily commented that it was unfair for the townships to be named while the other areas that had been affected by the virus went nameless.

Some, however, said that by publicising the case in Khayelitsha, this would lead to more awareness as some had mistakenly thought that they were immune from contracting the disease. 

@Kay_Mantanga said: “Why are people angry about the reported Khayelitsha #Covid19inSA case? It is a big, highly populated, congested area and the virus can easily spread. It’s important to spread awareness of the possible danger the people living there are facing so they can protect themselves.”

The lack of ablution facilities, space and informal housing were pin-pointed as limiting factors that could set townships back from battling the disease. 

Another Twitter user said adhering to the lockdown was important as the virus could infect anyone regardless of race or class.